What does Namaste REALLY Mean?
Have you been to a yoga class and heard the teacher say “namaste” with prayer hands and bow to the class as they send you on your elevated and yoga-fied (our friend Deb coined this phrase) way?
Namaste is a greeting that comes from the word Namaskar, meaning to bow with reverence. So when we say namaste it's really a bowing or honoring. My innermost light bows to your innermost light.
So you see, there is so much more when someone bows to you and speaks namaste. There is love, care, and intention behind this active greeting. There is energy and mindfulness.
Often we say “Hi, how are you?” to people and they reply back with "I'm good or I'm fine...How are you?" When someone responds with how they actually feel it can catch us off guard.
Since understanding the greeting namaste it has really changed (most of the time) how I greet strangers and loved ones alike. I really want to know how someone is when I say hello and ask them how they are doing.
One of my favorite things to do is teach this concept of Namaste and the way we interact with each other in children’s yoga. I have a lovely song that I wrote that I like to sing with them called The Namaste Song (I need to record this with my kids, hold me to that please).
Before I teach my little yoginis the song, I like to ask what it means to them. In NYC, lots of times they have an idea from the yoga classes they take in school which is always fun to hear. And lots of times kids have no clue! I like to pick a student and ask them if it’s ok if we look into each other’s eyes. Whey they say yes I try to be in the moment and teach them that namaste means I can see the light in you and you can see the light in me.
Recently I had the chance to teach the kindergarten students outside in the sunshine at my child’s school. I picked out a sweet little girl that seemed a bit shy and quiet to help me teach about Namaste. I could tell she was a bit uneasy that I chose her but that there was excitement about what I might ask her.
As we looked into each other’s eyes I felt called to remind her of her beauty. So I said, namaste means I see how beautiful you are on the inside and the outside and you see how beautiful I am on the inside and outside.
She quietly sat taller and I could physically see her shine brighter. We shared a truly special moment with our eyes locked on one another and disappeared into the moment together. It was just an instant but felt full and so real. Her smile formed with pride and joy.
We sang the Namaste Song and I sent them off to line up with their teacher. That little sweetheart smiled the entire way back into the school.
After the kids left one of the parents said to me, “I don’t think I have ever seen that little girl smile like that before. That was amazing, Connie.”
I hope she smiles often, that sweet child. This parent’s comment got me thinking in general that we can ALL do better. We can do better for our children, for our teachers, for our communities.
We can do better in a way that is simple. We can do better by genuinely asking someone how they are from a place of authenticity and compassion. As if you are saying my joy bows to your joy and that connection could send a spark of energy that touches them and brightens their hearts. And then that person ends up walking a little taller and smiling a little bigger and returning that same gift to someone else that crosses their path.
Now go out and try it!
Connie and Michaela